Arrivals area now dubbed the “Cardboard Box Hotel” and the “Corona Refugee Camp“.

With coronavirus cases continuing to rise, Japan is now taking extra measures to curb the crisis by banning entry to foreign nationals travelling from 73 countries and regions, and testing Japanese nationals returning from restricted countries overseas.

At the airport, returnees are required to stay inside the building until they receive the results of their PCR tests, with those testing positive taken away to a nearby hotel for quarantine, and those testing negative asked to self-quarantine for 14 days and leave the airport by means other than public transport, which is prohibited.

This new entry system means airport staff and quarantine officials have had to think outside of the box for a solution to accommodate passengers who are waiting to receive either their test results or a ride home. That solution comes in the form of a cardboard box, which is now being used by inbound travellers, who have been sharing images of the setup currently in place at Narita Airport.

“Now, when people arrive in Japan from overseas, they isolate at the cardboard hotel. It’s a corona refugee camp.”

“I’ll be sleeping here today. Narita Airport. Not allowed out until I get my test results.”

Narita Airport is one of only two airports, along with Kansai International Airport in Osaka, where nationals returning from China and South Korea are allowed to enter. While outbreaks in those countries are now largely under control, there are approximately 100 people using the same space in the terminal at the same time, leaving some travellers fearful of the risk of contracting coronavirus.

▼ There’s not a lot of distance between beds.

▼ This traveller says the person in the bed next to them coughed loudly many times without a mask during their overnight stay.

▼ Some travellers have had to stay at the cardboard hotel for one to two nights, increasing the possible risk.

Though there are concerns about the setup, travellers who used the beds said they were comfortable, with clean, good quality bedding made by esteemed Japanese futon manufacturer Nishikawa. The cardboard structures are slightly smaller than the ones which were set to be used at the Olympic Village, and were stockpiled by the government for use in disaster situations.

Photos show the beds are set up in the baggage claim area, with different sections for men and women.

Travellers are being provided with snacks like tinned biscuits and emergency water that has a shelf life of five years.

While some people were shocked to see the current conditions at Narita Airport, others were quick to remind people that travellers elsewhere face worse situations, where there’s no choice but to sleep on the floor.

▼ “Before I returned on 3 April, I was homeless and shut in at airports in Dubai and Paris. After returning home late, I was homeless once again at Narita. By chance, I had a sleeping bag in my hand luggage but if I didn’t have that, I would’ve only had one blanket. I think it’s pretty wonderful that they’re providing cardboard beds for people.”

Still, the cardboard box hotel has been receiving mixed reviews from the public and the people who use them, with some expressing concerns about it being a possible hotbed for infections and others praising the thoughtful gesture.

Like many other countries around the world, though, Japan is thinking on its feet to come up with solutions to problems as they arise during the current health crisis, so here’s hoping this idea turns out to be one of the better ones made in the long run. The one small thing we can definitely be thankful for is that Narita Airport isn’t as crowded now during the pandemic as it was when thousands were stranded there during last year.

Source: Jin
Featured image: Twitter/@jwada1963
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